On Friday, October 11, supporters for Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman held a press conference at the Christ Church Cathedral to bring attention to his plight and garner additional support to combat the State Attorney General’s motion to assume jurisdiction over his case with the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman has been housed on the State of Tennessee’s death row for over 30 years. His capital murder trial, held in Nashville in 1987, lacked both crime scene evidence and presentation of his history of mental illness due to the violent abuse he endured as a child.
State Attorney General Herbert Slatery is seeking to undo the decision of District Attorney General Glenn Funk and Judge Monte Watkins’s agreement with Abdur’Rahman’s defense team to resentence him to life in prison instead of death
“Overt racial bias has no place in the justice system,” said Attorney General Funk at Abdur’Rahman’s resentencing hearing. “Further, and most importantly, the pursuit of justice is incompatible with deception. Prosecutors must never be dishonest to or mislead defense counsel, courts or juries.”
Judge Watkins agreed with Funk saying, “The Court concludes that the prosecuting office has the authority to remedy a legal injustice under the circumstances such as these before us. After careful consideration, the Court believes the parties reached an equitable and just resolution and, therefore, approves the agreed order.”
But Attorney General Slatery disagrees.
According to his office, the fact that Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk relied on the same issues that Abdur’Rahman has raised repeatedly over the last 30 years, that it leaves no option for reopening the case for post-conviction proceedings or an amended sentence.
“The public has put a special trust in this Office to help preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system,” said A.G. Slatery. “This order uproots decades of established legal procedure and lacks any legal justification which is why we are appealing.”
This despite the acknowledgment from eight of the twelve trial jurors and multiple judges, that had all aspects and evidence of the case been presented, Abdur’Rahman would not have received the death penalty.
Dr. Phyllis Hildreth, who served as the Academic Director for Lipscomb University’s graduate Institute for Conflict Management and past chair of the Metro Human Relations Commission spoke on behalf of Abdur’Rahman. Thanks to Dr. Hildreth, Abdur’Rahman has earned a Lipscomb University Rule 31 mediator degree while on death row.
“I am here to say that Mr. Abdur’Rahman is a peacemaker within the prison. Largely because of his efforts, Unit 2 at the prison, which houses death row inmates, is the safest Unit in the entire Tennessee Prison system.”
We are arguing that the A.G. lacks standing to appeal,” said Abdur’Rahman’s attorney Brad Maclean. “The State, acting through D.A. Funk, has bound itself to the agreed order. We also feel that the A.G. is essentially trying to disenfranchise the people of Davidson County who elected both Judge Watkins and Glenn Funk. By contrast, the A.G. is appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court; he is not an elected official.”
Abdur’Rahman has an execution date of April 16, 2020.